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Organic Gardening

Get dirty, have fun and grow more food with great gardening tips from real-life gardeners.


What the Hay: Plant It Anyway!

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Here on the farm, we have been trying to utilize everything in some way. We want to make use of all organic matter and to reuse any farm waste to keep it out of landfill. Alan grows and puts up hay for our livestock. Sometimes if the weather has been wet and some of the hay doesn't dry out as well or gets wet afterwards this will develop some mold issues. We don't want to feed this to our goats. So we plant in it!
If using rolled hay, they need to be upright. If the roll falls onto its side it doesn't take on rainwater as good and the plants will need to be monitored for watering. The hay works best if it has aged at least a year. You can still use the hay but you may need to add a scoop of soil/compost with your plant to give it a good start.

We have used squash plants and the yields are very good.  We find there is less pest and mildew problems when planted in hay. We also use these hay bales for growing potatoes.  The potatoes are very clean when harvested.

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Photo of potato plants starting to bloom.

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These bales can be used for several years this way.  When the hay begins to break down into compost this can now be added to raised beds and/or hugelkulturs.

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We will be experimenting with growing strawberries in a frame on top of the haybale and potatoes tucked into the sides of the haybales.

Make the most of your resources and your growing spaces!

Susan Tipton-Fox continues the farming and preserving practices that had been passed down to her by her family. She presents on-farm workshops in Yancey County, North Carolina, and growing her on-farm agritourism by promoting "workshop stays" on the farm (extending the farm experience). Read all of Susan's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


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